PSYCH 628 Attitudes And Social Support Paper

Your Aunt Phyllis has breast cancer. You want to provide her with as much information as you can about the effects of her attitude and social support.


Read the University of Phoenix Material: Week Five Assignment Scenario to learn about Aunt Phyllis.


Write a 1,200- to 1,500-word paper discussing the following:


  • Research on the concepts of positivity, hardiness, and optimism as they apply to Phyllis
  • Whether she views her situation as a threat or a challenge
  • The value of social support in general and as it applies to this case
  • How Phyllis might learn to thrive more fully in her current situation, along with evidence-based recommendations for intervention
  • What role Phyllis’s attitude plays on her condition, and how hardiness, positivity, and optimism may help her cope with her illness


Include a minimum of four scholarly references.


Format your paper consistent with APA guidelines.


Click the Assignment Files tab to submit your assignment






Attitude and Social Support


November 17, 2014

Attitude and Social Support

Attitude and social support can greatly prescribe the ability of patients to cope and deal with their conditions. In the case of Aunt Phyllis, her negative attitude and lack of a stable social support network are negatively affecting her breast cancer prognosis. This is due to her views and her condition as a threat rather than a challenge. She lacks positivity, hardiness and optimism, all of which are vital for coping well with breast cancer. By eliminating maladaptive thoughts and maintaining a positive attitude in regard to her illness will aid Phyllis to thrive more fully in her current situation. In addition, some evidence-based interventions that can help Phyllis cope with her circumstances include psychotherapeutic techniques such as individual therapy, family therapy and group therapy, complementary therapies and psychopharmacological interventions. Relying on Phyllis’s case, this paper explores the effects of attitudes and social support on the prognosis of diseases such as breast cancer.

Concepts of Positivity, Hardiness and Optimism

The concepts of positivity, hardiness and optimism are clearly seen in Phyllis’ case. Positivity is an affirmative outlook that enables a person to endure stressful events with a belief in good possibilities of life. Currently, Phyllis does not show any positivity with her thinking and actions. She is no longer active and vibrant like she used to be before her husband’s death and her diagnosis with breast cancer. Hardiness is also an important factor that can help determine how patients cope with breast cancer and other complications. According to Matthews & Cook (2009), the three main features of psychological hardiness are control, challenge and commitment. From the case scenario involving Phyllis, it is evident that Phyllis lacks hardiness. This is due impart because she perceives the cancer as a threat rather than as a challenge. The problem has overwhelmed Phyllis and caused her to feel hopeless about life, blaming God for her cancer.

Optimism on the other hand implies a positive attitude and outlook of the world (Matthews & Cook, 2009). In the case of Phyllis, she holds pessimistic thoughts about her condition and life in general. For example, she has a negative attitude towards her exercise routine and no longer goes to play bridge with her friends. Furthermore, her thoughts about the prospects of death are making her very pessimistic. This type of attitude can have detrimental effects on the treatment she receives.

Phyllis’s Views of Her Situation

From the case scenario, it is apparent that Aunt Phyllis views her cancer as a threat rather than as a challenge. This is because she has not accept her condition as a natural part of life (Usta, 2012). She shows no interest in seeking alternative solutions to her problem but rather accepts it and lets the cancer overwhelm her. Perceiving her cancer as a threat has prevented her from getting professional advice on ways of coping with the condition, which may help her prognosis become better.

The Value of Social Support

The presence or absence of social support can remarkably affect the treatment outcomes of patients. According to Usta (2012), social support plays a critical role in improving health and reducing the pressures associated with illness. Both informal and formal networks such as good relationships with family, relatives and friends assist patients to accept their conditions and facilitate psychological adjustment. Social support provides the individual with ongoing cognitive, informational, emotional and material support essential for overcoming stressful experiences. This is critical for good psychological functioning particularly during treatment and diagnosis, as many patients have a strong need for reassurance (Garssen, 2004).

In the case of Phyllis, the lack of social support is shown to have detrimental effects on her ability to cope with the condition. Since the death of her husband, Phyllis has isolated herself to a large degree and has no interest in making new friends or interacting with other people. Furthermore, she has joined any social support group, which could assist her to coping with the condition better. The lack of social support increases her anxiety and may eventually subject her to depression (Given, 2003).

As stated by Usta (2012), the lack of a stable social support network can affect disease progression. Without establishing a supportive support network, Phyllis’s cancer might advance more rapidly and lead to deterioration of her condition. Social supports show the individuals that other people care about them and value them. It is worth noting that a diagnosis of cancer leads to diminished feelings of control, a sense of personal inadequacy, a sense of confusion as well as increased feelings of vulnerability (Given, 2003). Emotional, instrumental, and informational social support interactions can inevitably help Phyllis to cope with the bad feelings that might arise after the diagnosis of cancer. A strong network can also aid in increasing her self-efficacy and self-esteem, which can eventually motivate her to seek the appropriate care and lead a satisfying life.

How Phyllis Can Thrive More Fully

Phyllis can take various measures in order to thrive more fully in her current situation. She can start by renewing her social support network in order to find help and identify the best ways of dealing with her condition. In addition, Phyllis can engage in periodic physical activity in order to improve her prospects of leading a better and healthier life (Garssen, 2004). Having accurate information regarding her condition can have positive effects for cancer patients like Phyllis because such information can enable her to make informed decisions.

Evidence-Based Interventions

One of the evidence-based interventions for breast cancer is using psychotherapeutic techniques. These include individual therapy, family therapy and group therapy. Given (2003) asserts that the therapies serve various purposes including reducing the patient’s sense of emotional isolation, normalizing the patient’s feeling with regard to stresses brought on by illness and treatment as well as strengthening the patient’s defenses, which enhances coping. In the psychotherapeutic interventions, the therapist works closely with the patient and family members to teach them ways of overcoming and dealing with their conditions (Given, 2003).

Another proven evidence-based intervention is the use of complementary therapies to supplement conventional medical treatments. Some of these complementary therapies include acupuncture, massage, yoga and homeopathy (Given, 2003). These complementary treatments can aid in lessening the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. The other evidence-based intervention that can help cancer patients to cope with their condition is psychopharmacological interventions. This includes the use of antidepressants, antipsychotics and benzodiazepines in the treatment and management of cancer. Garssen (2004) acknowledges that these drugs play critical roles such as sleep enhancement in addition to treating anxiety and depression among cancer patients. However, the choice of medication might vary from patient to patient depending on various factors such as potential drug interactions, routes of administration and side effects (Given, 2003).

The Role Phyllis’s Attitude on her Condition and How Positivity, Hardiness and Optimism May Help

Phyllis’s attitudes play a significant role in her disease progression. Having maladaptive thoughts about the breast cancer significantly affects how she perceives the illness and in the long-term, it interferes with her ability to accept and cope with the condition. The pessimistic attitude can also lead to increased stress levels, which can compromise her immune system and have detrimental effects on her physical and mental health. In addition, the self-destructive thoughts can prevent her from seeking appropriate professional care.

Nevertheless, it is worth noting that positivity, hardiness and optimism can significantly aid Phyllis to cope with her breast cancer. Seeing the problem as a challenge rather than a threat can help her to stop avoiding the problem and find appropriate help for her condition. According to Matthews & Cook (2009), hardy and optimistic patients are in a better position to mobilize their resources in order to deal with the problem holistically and pursue possibilities for realizing successful outcomes. Rather than harboring feelings of helplessness, hardy and optimistic cancer patients are likely to demonstrate control through becoming active participants in decision-making about the type of treatment interventions they will seek. The patient will also gain control via learning meditation and relaxation techniques that aid to alleviate treatment anxiety and minimize some potential side effects of chemotherapy including nausea (Matthews & Cook, 2009). Positivity, hardiness and optimism will also prevent Phyllis from isolating or withdrawing herself from others. As such, she will be able to maintain healthy relationships with others and seek for help whenever she needs it.


Attitude and social support are two factors that can have significant ramifications on how patients are able to cope with their conditions. In the case of Aunt Phyllis, her negative attitude and lack of a stable social support network can have detrimental effects on the progression of the cancer. This is because she views her condition as a threat rather than a challenge and does not exhibit the elements of positivity, hardiness and optimism, all of which are crucial for leading a better life and coping well with breast cancer. Social support can significantly help her to understand that people love and value her and she can get important information to help her deal with the condition. By eliminating maladaptive thoughts and maintaining a positive attitude can aid Phyllis to thrive more fully in her current situation. Some evidence-based interventions that can also help her to cope well with the condition include psychotherapeutic techniques such as individual therapy, family therapy and group therapy, complementary therapies and psychopharmacological interventions. In addition, positivity, hardiness and optimism can help Phyllis to exhibit positive thoughts and seek help for her condition.


Garssen, B. (2004). Psychological factors and cancer development: Evidence after 30 years of research. Clinical Psychology Review , 24, 315–338. Retrieved from

Given, C. W. (2003). Evidence-Based Cancer Care and Prevention: Behavioral Interventions. Boston, MA: Springer Publishing Company.

Matthews, E. E., & Cook, P. F. (2009). Relationships among optimism, well-being, self-transcendence, coping, and social support in women during treatment for breast cancer. Psycho-Oncology , 18 (7), 716-726. Retrieved from

Usta, Y. Y. (2012). Importance of Social Support in Cancer Patients. Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention , 13, 3569-3572. Retrieved from

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